Grapefruit Blossom Pot de Creme is delicately infused with the essence of spring — if you can’t get citrus blossoms, try lilac, jasmine, honeysuckle, or elderberry.
Spring is around the corner…in fact here in Los Angeles it’s already arrived…trees all over town are blooming and the air is heavy with their incredible fragrance. When you walk outside at night it hits you like a ton of bricks. Spring blossoms have to be aromatic — they carry the future of their species on their little backs. If they don’t do a good job of attracting the bees, the trees won’t get pollinated. The period is brief, but in high season the scent of spring blossoms can be transcendent. I tried to capture that essence in these pot de cremes. You can take the general concept and run with it in a variety of ways depending on what you find blooming around you this spring.
In our backyard there is a huge grapefruit tree, and for most of the year it produces more grapefruits that we can handle. Right now it’s covered in blossoms and the aroma is intoxicating. Knowing that orange blossom is a common flavoring in Middle Eastern dishes, I wanted to experiment to see if the grapefruit blossom would translate into something delicious as well.
If you want to extract the flavor from the blossoms you can do it in several ways, all of them simple. In this case I warmed the cream that I was going to use to make the pot de creme, and added the clean blossoms right to it. I let it steep overnight, and then strained it. I would do the same if I wanted to make ice cream. For a cocktail I would infuse the blossoms in water to make a simple syrup. For a cookie or cake, I would let the blossoms hang out in some sugar to permeate it with their flavor, and then use the sugar to bake with. These same principles holds true for using all kinds of edible blossoms in cooking. If you don’t have access to a citrus tree, there are lots of other edible spring blossoms , but for this recipe you are looking for particularly aromatic blossoms:
- crab apple
Cooking with flowers encourages you to broaden your palate and also makes you aware of how important aromas are to the enjoyment of food. When I take a spoonful of this pot de creme I savor it in my mouth and through my nose, and I find that floral flavors linger on the palate. I guess it’s similar to how I’d enjoy a fine wine or Brandy.
I really like this way this Grapefruit Blossom Pot de Creme turned out…it’s super delicate, but that insane aroma that I am so bowled over by is definitely captured in this dessert. It’s almost as if you have to taste and breath it in at the same time to fully appreciate it. I added a little fresh grapefruit juice to the cream, but not too much because I didn’t want to overpower the fragrance of the blossoms. I think this would be wonderful for a Mother’s Day or Easter brunch, you can make it the day before and serve in pretty little glasses. Decorate with a few of the fresh petals and maybe a twist of grapefruit zest.
- a big handful of grapefruit blossom petals
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed white grapefruit juice
- Put the cream and the blossoms into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and stir to combine. Heat on medium stirring occasionally, until the mixture just comes to a simmer. Turn off heat and let it cool to room temperature. Cover, put in the refrigerator, and leave overnight, making sure that the flowers are immersed in the cream.
- Strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve. Measure out 1 1/2 cups. (You'll have a bit leftover)
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a saucepan. Add the strained cream (1 1/2 cups) and the grapefruit juice.
- Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture just comes to a slight simmer and thickens. Don't boil.
- Pour the thickened mixture into small glasses or cups, you should have four servings.
- Refrigerate until fully chilled, or overnight.
- Garnish with a blossom or a twist of grapefruit zest if you like.
- Choose only blossoms that you know to be edible and pesticide free. Remove the stamens if you are prone to allergies and just use the petals. Lots of flowers are edible, for a comprehensive list, click HERE.
- The flavor of this dessert is mild and aromatic, don’t expect a strong grapefruit taste.
- Resist the urge to use grated grapefruit zest in the cream mixture, it’s bitter.
- You’ll have a bit of leftover cream which you can whip for a topping if you like.